Using the Vixen File

 
  The Sonex tool list has several files listed, including a vixen file. Until the box from Brown Tool Supply showed up, I had no idea what a vixen file was, nor how to use one. Other builders talked of using them on the spar caps, but now they come completely finished from Sonex. So, the vixen file sat in my tool box for a while. What a mistake!


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A vixen file is a VERY aggressive cutting file. It is a single cut, meaning it has teeth all aligned in the same direction. Looking at these teeth, they look more like a plane than a file. This file can really cut! I call it the "Moho Metal Mover".
Cutting the angle stock on the band saw leaves a rough-cut surface. You can see the ripples and teeth marks the bandsaw blade has imparted to the aluminum. These need to be removed prior to finishing and installing the part.
This close-up shows this uneven surface a little better.
Here is the first pass with the vixen file over the edge. The high spots have already been knocked off and there are some area showing a little shine already. This was about 10 seconds worth of filing (no kidding!)
I have continued to work the surface down. Now the high spots have been completely removed and I am approaching a smooth, even surface. Elapsed time: 30 seconds. At this point it is ready to go on the belt sander to finish it up.
By contrast, the method I once used was to take the part directly to the belt sander. This process works well, but is time consuming. Even using a 60 or 80 grit belt, it takes quite a while (1-3 minutes) to sand the edge down smooth and even. On the larger pieces, this can generate a lot of heat. It was not unusual to put the part down a couple of times because it has gotten too hot to hold! This picture shows about 30 seconds on the belt sander.
Here is an additional 30 seconds or so. The progress is slower because the belt is now removing lots of material in order to plane down the high spots and even things out. Using the vixen file prior to the belt sander really speeds things up, and save a lot of wear on the sanding belt.

 

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Updated: 12 Jan 05